SC no to info on judges` appointments, transfers

AG G E Vahanvati contended that all information held by the CJI cannot be made public.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday opposed
the idea of making public under the RTI Act information
pertaining to appointment and transfer of judges, saying that
it would adversely impact the independence of the judiciary.

Challenging various orders of the Delhi High Court and
the Central Information Commission (CIC) asking the apex court
to reveal information held by the Chief Justice of India,
Attorney General G E Vahanvati, appearing for the Supreme
Court, contended that all information held by the CJI cannot
be made public.

He pleaded that these are very important issues and
they should be decided by a Constitution bench of the court.

"Principles of the independence of the judiciary have
to be kept in mind while deciding these issues," he said,
adding that there are various judgments of the Supreme Court
which have said that the conduct of the judges including
appointment issues cannot be discussed in public.

He further submitted the a larger bench should deal
with the RTI act issue keeping in mind the important
constitutional provisions which refer to the independence of
the judiciary.

However, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the
the RTI applicant, who has sought information under the
transparency law, submitted that several eminent jurist and
former judges, including Justice V R Krishna Iyer, have
criticised the way in which judicial appointments are made
now-a-days and said that it is high time that the process
of appointment of judges be brought under public scrutiny.

A bench comprising Justices B S Reddy and S S Nijjar
reserved its order on whether the case should be referred to a
larger bench.

The court was hearing an appeal filed by the Supreme
Court Registry challenging the directions of the CIC to
disclose information on judges` appointments to the apex court
in cases involving superseding of seniors. It was filed on
December one.

The apex court had also put on hold the operation of
the CIC order directing it to divulge communication between
Chief Justice of India (K G Balakrishnan) and Justice
R Raghupathy of Madras High Court on alleged interference by a
Union minister in a sub-judice matter.

The CIC, in a series of orders, has held that office
of the CJI comes within the purview of the RTI Act and
information held by the Chief Justice should be revealed.
However, Balakrishnan, who retired in May this year, had
consistently been maintaining that his office does not come
under the ambit of the Act.



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